ATHENS – With elections only weeks away and his party reeling over the conviction of one former minister for breach of duty in a TV license scheme, major opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras shed himself of another.
Former alternate health minister Pavlos Polakis, a surgeon known as a loose cannon even within the party, was stripped of his title as Shadow Minister for Transparency for a social media rant against judges, journalists and bankers.
Polakis named the judges in the case of former minister Nikos Pappas, who was given a 2-year sentence after being convicted of trying to steer a TV license to a businessman to set up a station that would be sympathetic to SYRIZA when it was in power.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who ousted Tsipras in July, 2019 snap elections, is expected to set elections as soon as April 9 for a rematch, and before a train tragedy brought a stall to campaigning went after SYRIZA over Polakis.
“Let them sort out their internal affairs, let them reflect on who are the ones who elevated ‘Polakism’ to the party’s central line. And they must let us do our job, let us continue to talk about the future, avoid toxicity, and look at the real problems of society with respect and understanding, and I ask all our cadres to do this,” Mitsotakis said of SYRIZA’s dilemma.
Tsipras also removed Polakis from a list of parliamentary candidates for the elections even though the former minister is from the important area of Chania on the island of Crete and reportedly was mulling whether to eject him from the party.
With so much at stake as he tries to close a now near 7-point gap in the polls, Tsipras decided that Polakis was more trouble than he was worth although the former minister is a darling to some in the party for his outspoken ways.
Tsipras indicated he had to act and was left no choice after Polakis went after state institutions and went on a tirade that could damage the party ahead of the elections that are expected to be difficult for SYRIZA to come back.
“SYRIZA has rules and procedures. (Polakis) was censured for having posted some programmatic positions that differ from the collectively elaborated positions on how we will deal with problems with the functioning of institutions,” Tsipras said.
“SYRIZA will not govern the country to either overthrow (institutions) nor to take revenge. It will come to power to build,” he said of his hopes.